Friday, 26 May 2017

The Olympus Pen for beginners & how I photograph interiors

Photography tips for beginners, including how to use the Olympus Pen camera to take better pictures and how I style and photograph interior design images. Explanation of camera settings, and what shutter speed, aperture, F-stop and ISO means. How to get the most out of your Olympus Pen camera, as a beginner to photography.

I recently received my first ever 'proper' camera, an Olympus Pen, despite being a complete novice when it comes to photography. However I found it quite difficult to get my head around the technical side of things, so six months on I thought I'd share what I've learnt so far, including some quick and easy tips on how to take great pictures, a beginners guide to some of the more technical settings, and how to get the most out of your camera.



After doing a lot of research, I went for the E-PL7. I was looking for something compact, yet would take high-quality photographs - and, I'm not going to lie, was pretty to look at, which this camera definitely is! Not only that, but it has a really cool wi-fi feature, meaning you can easily send pictures directly from the camera to your phone to easily edit or upload to social media - this has proven to be an absolute lifesaver, and also cuts out the need for a laptop, should you not have one.

You can also get a huge range of lenses to fit this camera, which will enable you to take different types of picture, depending on what you're looking for. I haven't delved into this as yet, as I've found the lens that comes with this camera has been great for what I've wanted so far.

What all those settings mean

It's very easy just to shoot on Automatic mode, as the other settings can appear to be quite confusing to start with, however these other settings can add different dimensions to your photos depending on what you're looking for - so its worth spending a little time learning about your camera.

Photography tips for beginners, including how to use the Olympus Pen camera to take better pictures and how I style and photograph interior design images. Explanation of camera settings, and what shutter speed, aperture, F-stop and ISO means. How to get the most out of your Olympus Pen camera, as a beginner to photography.

Automatic mode - This is the standard setting, and good for when you're getting to know the camera, as it will detect the appropriate settings for your subject. The other good thing about this setting is the fact that you can edit a number of aspects within this setting such as colour, brightness and background blurring. I used this option a lot to start with, as it gives you a great chance to get your head around the settings, and learn what makes a good image. However, if you want to take your photography to the next step, its a great idea to delve into the more advanced settings.

Programme mode - With this setting, the camera selects the aperture and shutter speed for you depending on how bright the subject is.

Aperture - This setting allows you to manually set the Aperture, and the camera will then select the relevant shutter speed. A larger Aperture = lower F-number, which gives an image a decreased depth of field, creating a blurred background affect. F5.6 is the standard F-number.

Shutter Speed - This setting allows you to automatically set the shutter speed, determining how much light enters the lens. The camera will then automatically set the appropriate aperture. A fast shutter speed (anything above 60) is good for capturing movement without blur. A low shutter speed (below 60) is good for blurring a fast speed, should you want to capture some action and drama.

Custom modes  - These allow you to save settings so you can return to them easily - a really handy little feature!

Manual - This mode allows you to set both the Aperture and Shutter Speed, and is a good next step once you've mastered using the settings individually.

Set the ISO first, as this will determine how sensitive the camera is to light. A good guide I stick to is 200 for a decently-lit room. You'll then need to set the F-Stop, (determining the depth of field - how much of the photo is in focus, and how much is blurred). The larger the number, the more of the room will be in focus.

Tip: If you're shooting a full room set the F-Stop to somewhere between 8 & 11, and everything will be in focus. If you're shooting something close up then dial the F-number down, making the Aperture larger. You can then set your Aperture and Shutter Speed as required.

Another setting that I absolutely love is the touch screen option, which allows you to take a photo by touching the screen instead of pressing the shutter button. I've found this allows you to focus in on certain aspects of an image really easily, particularly good if you're shooting smaller details rather than a full room.

Tips on taking a great picture 

Lighting really is everything - Shooting in natural light makes everything look nicer. This is something I find really annoying during the winter months, when I leave for work in the dark and get home in the dark, but its so true that images taken in daylight will always look better than those in artificial light (unless you're going for the cosy 'hygge' style image, of course!)

Don't be tempted to have a light on in the room when you're taking your picture either, even if you think it appears a bit dingy (story of my life in my house!) - you can sort this out when editing. Below is an example of an image taken in my bathroom with the lights on and off - that artificial 'glow' given off in the first image doesn't work as well as the image taken in natural daylight.

Photography tips for beginners, including how to use the Olympus Pen camera to take better pictures and how I style and photograph interior design images. Explanation of camera settings, and what shutter speed, aperture, F-stop and ISO means. How to get the most out of your Olympus Pen camera, as a beginner to photography.

Look around before you snap - Get rid of anything that's not aesthetically pleasing. Can you plump that crumpled-up cushion a bit better? Move that mug out of the way, and light that candle in the background - it doesn't matter if afterwards you blow it out and move all the junk back to where it was!

Flat lay - I'm not going to lie, I find shooting a flat lay image quite hard, and can often spend a ridiculous amount of time setting them up - so I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on these at all! But as a general rule it's a good idea to think about all the items you're featuring and how their colours compliment each other. Also think about the background you're using too, I often use my dining table, or even a blanket laid out on the floor - make sure to do this by a window to optimise natural light.

Photography tips for beginners, including how to use the Olympus Pen camera to take better pictures and how I style and photograph interior design images. Explanation of camera settings, and what shutter speed, aperture, F-stop and ISO means. How to get the most out of your Olympus Pen camera, as a beginner to photography.

Editing - So you've taken a really great insta-worthy snap, and now I would recommend a bit of editing to improve it even further. You don't need to spend a fortune on fancy software to do this either, there are a number of really great free apps you can use to edit your images, such as VSCO, Snapseed and my personal favourite ColorStory. These can let you brighten your image even further by increasing its exposure, to really make it pop. Below is one of my images before and after a little enhancing:

Photography tips for beginners, including how to use the Olympus Pen camera to take better pictures and how I style and photograph interior design images. Explanation of camera settings, and what shutter speed, aperture, F-stop and ISO means. How to get the most out of your Olympus Pen camera, as a beginner to photography.

Hope this has been helpful if, like me, you're a newbie photographer. Be sure to share your images with me over on Instagram (@dove_cottage) - I'd love to see what you've been shooting!

Do you have any helpful photography tips I've missed?

Thanks for reading,
Sam Xx
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21 comments

  1. Loves this read . So helpful as I'm currently looking for a decent camera

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    1. Thanks so much for having a read! I'm so glad you found it helpful, I would definitely recommend the Olympus Pen, I really love it!

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  2. This is fab! I've been wanting an Olympus Pen for ages but I've never owned a 'proper' camera before.. this post was really helpful! Would you recommend getting any accessories to go with the camera? E.g. Camera strap or memory card? Xx

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    1. Hi Georgie, thanks so much for having a read, I'm so glad you found it helpful! I would definitely recommend this camera, it's my first proper one too! I got a memory card to use with it, and also bought a new leather strap too as I found the one it came with had a habit of slipping off! Hope you enjoy your new camera! Xx

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  3. Teresa Carnegie10 June 2017 at 02:49

    Thank you for all of the information. I especially like the little things that I should obviously be thinking about but never do. ....Move the mug out of the way...

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    1. Thank you so much for reading! Glad you found it useful

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  4. This is a brilliant resource for anyone to learn the basics. It's nice to have on hand since all those settings are confusing unless you read the manual, which can be a bore. This is way more interesting and I would likely follow your well written guide instead. Lovely photos and great tips.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading! So glad you found it useful! Thank you for your lovely comment

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  5. You've got some great tips and tricks here! It takes time to get used to using a good camera, my Canon and I have been working our way through the learning curves too!

    Britt | http://alternativelyspeaking.ca/

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    1. Thank you so much for reading! Glad you found it useful :)

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  6. Wow I really love the tips that you have shared. Might take this up as a hobby.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading! Glad you found it useful :)

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  7. I've read so many good things about the Oylmpus Pen for quite a while. These are great tips and suggestions!

    www.susanalopessnarey.com

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    1. Thank you so much for reading, glad you found it helpful :)

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  8. I am a completely new photographer and this post is really useful and I might even invest in that camera.

    www.worldofnabeeda.com

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    1. Thank you for reading! Glad you found it helpful :)

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  9. You've got some great tips and tricks here!

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  10. I found it useful lovely photos and great tips. , thank u for share this tips and tricks

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  11. I really like this blog i love to read this. So helpful as I'm currently looking for a decent camera it is nice shots..

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  12. This is such great post! I have been looking for a good camera so that I can step up my picture game for my blog! xoxo

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  13. Great examples, love this post!

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